The turbulent tides of adolescence are marked by significant emotional difficulties. As teens battle their emotional ups and downs, it’s no easy feat for the parents as well. As adolescents strive for autonomy and identity, parents grapple with the reality of their child becoming independent. It is an overwhelming period for both the teen and his or her parent.
As teens experiment with new relationships, they develop distance and gain space from parents. As parents, you still need to maintain a close relationship with them, expressing interest in and asking questions about your teen’s new life. Express affection and appreciation for their efforts, building their sense of self-worth.
Listen to what your child is saying, and even more, to what he or she is not saying – which may be manifested in his or her behaviour. Recognize signs of unresolved distress. Don’t be too quick to give advice, make suggestions, or give the perfect solutions. Listen, make your child feel heard, give him your undivided attention and non-judgmental support, and allow him or her to come up with their own solutions. Don’t tell them they’re having it easy, or that they’re overthinking, or they’re too influenced by friends or that they’re not giving it their best. Welcome their doubts and questions, have healthy discussions, provide guidance to help your child understand the problem solving process.
Create a trusting relationship between you and your child, allowing a safe space for him or her to share his or her thoughts and turmoil. Spend time with your teen through routine family dinners and leisurely activities. Be consistent in disciplining your teen, providing adequate reinforcements to promote healthy behavioural habits. Teens, in an effort to be more adult-like, often emulate the behaviours of adults around them. So try to healthily express your own emotions and deal with strenuous situations.
Seek help or advice from a mental health care provider in case you feel your adolescent’s emotional disturbances have been persistent and difficult for you to manage.
-By Asmita Dalvi